Thought I'd give this one a go 01-Feb-2007

Since Paul followed on Tel's "games that made him the gamer he is", I thought I'd give it a stab.
I followed the same idea, using Tel's tag lines and trying to work out what applied for me personally.
Perhaps unsurprisingly several of mine cross over with both Pauls and Tels.

Ah well, here they are.

10 The first game that really got me hooked and responsible in no small way for me wanting to play board games in later life.
I didn't really start playing board games until I got to University. Of course there were always the outings with Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and (god help us) Monopoly (involving all the Christmas family arguments about what the rules were and all the rest). Once I got there I got exposed mostly to games sold by Games Workshop, who in those days still sold games they didn't produce themselves. So I got exposed to Risk and Civilisation and Fury of Dracula.
The one that *really* did it for me though was Talisman. Me and my mates were mad for that game back then.
To the extent that I had the original plus all 4 expansions for it. I even went to the point of buying a load of the lead figurines Games Workshop produced for the game.
It'd probably all be worth money if I hadn't thrown away all the expansion boxes (took up too much space) and inexpertly "painted" half the figures in garish colours.
Probably not a game I'd get anything out of these days, but I have rose-coloured memories of it.

9 The first german style game I ever bought.
I don't have all that many, and most of them are card games. I couldn't tell you what the first one of those might have been, but I know the first proper "board" game I asked for, which was Vinci. Despite only having managed to win it once, it still features as one of my favourites. The variability provided by the different civilisations lends it a lot of replayability for me. Of course the fact that *my* copy has never been opened is not the point...

8 Tap card to be hooked on games for life - my gaming would be much more sporadic without this.
Aaargh. I could have killed Paul when he started us all off on Magic. Actually I totally bought into it at the time (and bought and bought and bought), but once I finally managed to kick the habit I could have killed him!
I still haven't managed to summon the will power to set fire to the cards though - soo much money spent on them, and I kicked the habit long before the others and spent less while addicted!

7 So you can play 1 game all day without getting bored.
Paul suggested Civilisation for this. That would only work for me if you skipped the last 3 words. You can certainly play it all day (and all night as well), I usually lost interest after 4 or 5 hours.
I'm not sure I can think of a game I could play all day without getting bored that doesn't involve being an undead priest, but Brittania might fit the bill. We used to play over two evenings (and on the most recent game those two evenings are standing at about 5 years apart and increasing!), and I always found it involving.

6 The game that launched my german revolution.
Gonna have to agree with Paul on this one. Settlers of Catan was a radical shift in my view of board games.
The first time I played it I was astounded that such a game could exist. The mixture of luck and skill mostly the former in my case), cards, dice, a random board and all the rest left me slightly stunned. Not one we play that much any more, but I have fond memories of the Travel Settlers we played on the ferry across to Holland.

5 An early favourite in the genre and partly responsible for my annual pilgrimage to Essen.
Since I've only been to Essen the once, I'm not sure I can comment on this one. Early favourites for me would include Vinci, Settlers and Medici, all of which I enjoyed a lot and which expanded my horizons about what board games outside the UK could be like.

4 Proving that in the right circumstances any game can become a favourite.
Tel has the right of this.
He'd just had some fairly major surgery, and was still on a drip for crying out loud. And we roll out Limits. Don't get me wrong, Limits was always likely to be the sort of game I like. But with Tel pleading with us not to make him laugh in case he pulled a stitch out, that game session is always going to live in my memory. In a similar vein games like Sticheln or 6 Nimmt are favourites in large part due to particularly unforgetable moments.

3 Games can even make commuting enjoyable.
Ah so many choices. For a few months Paul Tel and myself were all commuting on the same train. And we arranged to meet at the same carriage (with a table) so we could play games for the hour long commute every day. Needless to say there was a lot of very English sideways staring going on trying to figure out what we were doing, followed by a couple of people introducing themselves and even joining in.
We played Mystery Rummy, Al Capone, Lost Cities, Flaschentuefel and San Marco. And probably others.
My vote has to go to Flaschentuefel (bottle imp) though. Mostly because it's one of the very rare games
that Tel is absolutely hopeless at :)

2 As close to a gaming nirvana currently available.
I'm gonna have to go with Power Grid on this one. I'm not sure I've played the same variant more than once, but I've seriously enjoyed every single game of it. It's currently joint top with Puerto Rico (and a couple of card games) as my highest scored game ever. My only gripe with it (and it's a minor one) is that the unpredictability of the really large power stations can be a serious issue if they come out before anyone can afford them. Almost perfect.

1 The next one...or possibly the one after that.
Interesting. I'm always up for trying something new, even if it turns out to be pants.
You'll never know unless you try. Having said that, it'd take some pretty serious negotiations to get me to play a sequel to Richochet Robot!
Who can say what the next big thing will be. I imagine the Piddinghoe game vaults still contain a pile of unplayed games from last year's Essen, so it could be one of those. Or one from this year's Essen. Or even one picked up at random at a jumble sale.
Who can say.

Games for the non-gamer 13-Jan-2006

Games for the non-gamer

I think it's fair to say that I am the least keen gamer of the Piddinghoe crowd. I tend to avoid the Sunday all day marathons, and probably have the worst attendance record for Tuesdays as well. Of course another argument for that is the oft-repeated one that I don't actually possess a table. I've only visited Essen the once (which I did quite enjoy), and have the smallest games "collection" of the group.

Since I lack a table, and hence can't host games nights, I have mostly collected card games (I tend to favour those to play anyway) where I have at least a small chance of getting some of my more ... um "normal" friends to join in for a game.

I am a keen skiier, and generally ski with people who have never played a game more complicated than poker or Monopoly, so I have been trying to introduce some of the simpler German games to them as an evening entertainment when we are too shagged to get out of the hotel in the evening.
This has met with some interesting results.

The first game I tried (on the basis that is pretty much 100% beer proof) was Perudo.
Consisting as it does of just cups and dice, and offering the opportunity to accuse other people of being liars it seemed a good starter. The (mostly) simple rules obviously helped here too. On the whole, this was accepted as a fun game by all (although Martin, who had played it previously, had a minor diagreement about the rules which had to be settled in the end by actually reading them).

Spurred on by this apparent success, I started to pull out some of the card games I could actually remember the rules to (not many of them to be fair).
First to hit the table was 6 Nimmt. With 9 people. When played with 5 it can be a little chaotic, but with 9 it was particularly manic. What was interesting to me was the *way* people played it though. Some people approached it as some form of three dimensional chess game, assumed it was way too hard to understand (despite only having 3 rules) and just played randomly. Unsurprisingly they generally did quite well.
Others approached it as if they were playing for their very lives, contemplating very seriously every card played. This usually lead to getting raped of course, since there's very little analysis involved in the game. It certainly showed me a thing or two about some friends I've known a very long time that I had been unaware of with respect of their competitiveness.

I then tried FlaschenTuefel with one of the crowd I play poker with occasionally. This one went surprisingly well considering. Of course this is a game where you really need to get spanked a few times before you realise what the idea of the game is, and Paul got duely spanked. I think he enjoyed it though, since he seemed to think it was a little simplistic as the rules were explained to him.

The best result though has to be with Limits. I've tried this a few times now, with different groups of people, and with mixed results. Limits is about as simple a game as you can get.
For those who don't know it here's a precis. You have cards in 5 colours. There is a limit card for each round, with a number for each of the colours (ranging from zero to unlimited). Each player in turn plays a coloured card to a pile, and once someone thinks the limit for that colour has been broken, he accuses the relevant player. If he's right he gets a point, and the other player gets -2. If he's wrong it's the other way around. The catch is that before play starts on each round (after the limit card is shown), each player puts one card down in front of them to increase the limit for that colour by one. So you never *know* for sure what the limit in any colour is, since it is affected by all players hidden cards. One other rule allows you to swap 4 cards of the same colour for a point (laying two of them onto the play pile and two to the draw pile) This can of course lead to you immediately being challenged and losing 2 points.
It's really a memory game, but with a bit of bluff thrown in (laying the second blue card when the limit is 0 for example). Mostly people have managed to get their heads round this fairly easily (although a practise round is normally helpful), and seem to have enjoyed it. There is one guy though who just seemed incapable of understanding what was going on. I'm pretty sure that if you had connected an encephalagraph to his head you would have got a flat-line signal out. Every time it came round to his turn his eyes went completely blank for a minute or two, followed by a random card plopping out.

So it just goes to show, some people can be gently introduced to card games which do not involve the Jack of Spades.
And some can't.